Fog can be comforting, yet alarming. As I starting climbing the hill, the crest that I know so well, having passed this way countless times, disappeared. The fog consumed the sun, leaving a consistent opaque gray. I checked to make sure my lights were
Fog can be comforting, yet alarming.
As I starting climbing the hill, the crest that I know so well, having passed this way countless times, disappeared. The fog consumed the sun, leaving a consistent opaque gray. I checked to make sure my lights were on. They were. I knew to my right there was hardly a shoulder before dropping steeply to a ditch. On my left was the dashed white line. I was lucky to see three dashes – maybe 80 feet – before it disappeared.
I know this road, where it curves and the intersection halfway down the slope on the other side. This is a country road. I would have been surprised if there was any traffic at 9:30 on a Monday morning, perhaps a farmer with a tractor planning on haying once the sun came out and dried the fields. But I didn’t expect anyone. I had a comforting feeling that goes with being in familiar surroundings, although they weren’t visible.
The fog was in patches and gave signs of breaking up only it wasn’t catching up to me.
When I reached Route 20, rain mixed with the fog and my visibility was further reduced. I dismissed pulling off the highway and waiting for conditions to improve. How long might that take? And, besides, now there were a few fellow travelers. We huddled in a three-car pack, secure in our numbers and content to be doing 35 mph.
That didn’t last. I was going solo and the assurance of knowing exactly where I was had gone. I tightened my grip on the wheel and moved forward as if that might increase my vision. It didn’t. The gray screen held its secrets regardless. Dark forms appeared and disappeared. They had to be parked cars, barns and houses.
This was unnerving. That comforting feeling evaporated. I tensed up and willed myself to constantly check for the white line and be prepared should taillights appear in my lane. I shut off the crackling news report from a local radio station, listening to the hum of the engine and the swish of the wipers.
After 10 miles, conditions improved. The rain persisted, but I was out of the clouds. I could see cars ahead and soon I was doing 60, five miles over the speed limit. I slipped in the third disc to “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson. It’s well researched and I was intrigued by his premise that roots to computers and the digital world of today reach back to the mid-1800s. Yet the book was no match for what was over taking me now. It was a mental form of fog far more insidious than what I had previously faced.
It crept in. At first I questioned whether I had put in the wrong disc because it seemed I had heard this passage. No, I hadn’t listened to this passage. I took a sip of water, thinking that might help clear my mind.
I switched to the radio and a polka. They play a lot of polkas in Upstate NY. That didn’t help, either. It was only 10 in the morning, but I now knew what I was fighting – sleep. Had driving in the fog been that intense that my body was telling me it was time to take a rest? Maybe I should pull over?
I didn’t. Where would I stop anyway?
I feared that moment where you doze for only a few seconds and suddenly snap awake. That could be fatally dangerous. I had to fight that from happening. I thought of how many times I’d come this way and the stops we’d made to gas up and go inside the store to ask for a double scoop. I went for maple walnut and coffee. The kids loved chocolate.
Ice cream. The thought hit like a hammer. I imagined the cold creamy taste and the crunch of walnuts and crackle of a waffle cone.
I didn’t have to stop.
I was fully awake.